Sep 25, 2018

Patients denied knee and hip surgery

A recent report from the British Medical Journal (BMJ) has revealed a worrying finding: more and more patients in England are being refused knee and hip surgery – even though they’ve been referred by general practitioners (GPs) who believe that surgery is in their best clinical interests.

So what does NHS guidance have to say on the subject? It says that GPs have to make exceptional funding requests for a range of treatments which are then reviewed by “clinical commissioners”.

This process wasn’t initially inappropriately set up to control referrals for things like fertility treatments and plastic surgery. But it appears that some health authorities who are running over budget are now taking these guidelines and applying them to knee and hip surgery.

The BMJ has stated that nearly 1,700 requests for knee and hip surgery were rejected in the last year – a figure that represents an increase of nearly 50% on the previous year. So what’s behind this crackdown? Quite simply, the referring GPs are being advised that the money is no longer available and the “clinical commissioning groups” are being asked to be more efficient.

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